PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — At St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in McKees Rocks, Archpriest Thomas Soroka called this a time of pain and sorrow.
A special prayer service was held Thursday night for Russian tourist, Anton Kemaev, who was fatally shot while riding in a car in Pittsburgh on Dec. 19.
Fr. Soroka told the mourners, who among them was Kemaev’s widow, Olga, that they may never fully understand the circumstances surrounding the shooting.
He spoke in English, but his remarks were translated into Russian.
“I’ve heard the stories from his friends and acquaintances of what a kind person Anton was,” Fr. Soroka said.
A couple of hours earlier, Olga met with 35-year-old John Bond and his wife. Olga chose to have her husband’s organs donated before he was cremated. Bond was one of four recipients to receive the gift of life from Anton.
Bond, who had kidney disease and suffered from renal failure, was on a transplant waiting list, and was flown to Pittsburgh where he received one of Anton’s kidneys.
“It’s sad to think that someone has to lose their life in order for someone else to gain life, and so that’s why organ donation is so, so important,” said Bond’s wife, Erin.
“Everything will be monitored back at my home in Minnesota. It’s just take care of myself from here. Take my prescriptions when I’m supposed to, live healthy, be happy,” said Bond, who is a veteran of the Army National Guard.
Through a friend and translator, Olga talked about her new friends.
“She’s really happy to meet with Bond in real life,” translator Vladimer Shlyakhtim said. “It’s very important to her. She can tell he’s a good person.”
For Bond, his wife and their three children, it’s a new day, thanks to a Russian tourist they never knew in life, but who, in death, gave Bond a special gift.
“My husband is going to have energy to go out and play with the kids, and you know, maybe we can vacation someday,” Erin said.
No word on when Kemaev will be returning to her home in Russia to be with their three children.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family with medical and funeral expenses: https://www.gofundme.com/4wdych4